Five Oxfordshire businesses have been named by the government for failing to pay the minimum wage.

The five were among 524 employers which appeared on the Government's list of businesses who had breached minimum wage law, which was published on Tuesday (February 20).

Cotswold Inns and Hotels Limited, Hounslow, W4, which is now under new ownership, failed to pay £30,386.63 to 262 workers.

Open Cosmos Ltd, Harwell, OX11, failed to pay £11,307.25 to seven workers.

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Henriette Andersen and Ulrik Molgaard, Chipping Norton, OX7, failed to pay £7,337.04 to one worker.

Gleamteam Valeting (Oxford) Limited, Kidlington, OX5, failed to pay £1,975.81 to one worker.

Matthew Clulee Limited, Oxford, OX1, failed to pay £2,121.06 to two workers.

Employers named on the list also include major high street brands.

Around 172,000 workers were left out of pocket as a result, the Department for Business and Trade said.

It said all the companies on the list have paid what they owe to staff and been hit with financial penalties up to 200 per cent of the amount they underpaid.

The investigations were carried out by His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)  between 2015 and 2023.

The minimum wage - known officially as the National Living Wage - varies according to the age of the employee, and is updated every April.

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From April 1, 2024, the rates will rise to: National Living Wage for over-23s: £11.44 an hour from £10.42. The National Living Wage for those aged 21-22: £11.44 an hour from £10.18.

Minister for Enterprise, markets and small business, Kevin Hollinrake, said: "Employees deserve to get paid properly for the hard work they put in.

"Whilst not all minimum wage underpayments are intentional, the government has been clear that anyone entitled to be paid the minimum wage should receive it, and that enforcement action will be taken against employers who do not pay their staff correctly."

All five businesses were contacted.

Matthew Clulee said: "We took this course of action to provide training and opportunities that we could afford to, for two young people we believed in, who were not eligible for government-backed apprenticeships."

He explained: "This relates to two trainee hairdressers that did not qualify to be an apprentice under the government scheme but were taken on by us part-time, and trained by us for free in their spare time, with no obligation on their part to work for us when qualified.

"One is still with us and the other went to work for a competing salon, as we did not have a position for him.

"The government representative refused to acknowledge them as part time workers and fined us to prove a point.

"The fine was so much lower than the projected legal fees to defend ourselves that it made sense to just agree and get on with life without the stress.

"Many salons now don’t employ apprentices as the cost to benefit risk is too high for most, the cost of training an apprentice over a two-year training period is upwards of £50k with up to £20k being their wages."

A spokesperson for Open Cosmos said this oversight occurred in March 2018 - February 2019.

"Upon recognising our error, the company promptly took action to rectify the situation."